What is Section 8?

Section 8 is the common term for federal low-income rental assistance programs managed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The term Section 8 is usually used to describe the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, which helps tenants pay rent based on their income, and pays participating landlords the remainder of the rent. "Section 8" can also refer to the Section 8 Project-Based Voucher (PBV) program, and the Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) program. In both programs, the tenant typically pays 30% of their monthly income for housing costs.

Section 8 may also refer to either the tenant-based Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program or the Project-based Rental Assistance (PBRA) program.

It gets its name from being Section 8 of the Housing Act of 1937.

Section 8 Housing Help

Curated questions and answers about common Section 8 concerns.

How Much Are Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers Worth

Under the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, most tenants will pay 30% of their monthly income. The Public Housing Authority that issued and approved the voucher will pay the landlord the remainder of the rent and utility costs.

In cases where the market rate rent of a unit exceeds the payment standard set by the Public Housing Authority, tenants may be required to pay up to 40% of their monthly income. However, by law, contributions towards rent from a tenant may not be more than 40% of their monthly income.

Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/how-much-do-vouchers-pay

Who is Eligible For Section 8?

Adults 18 years or older in households earning less than 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI) are eligible for Section 8 assistance.

As defined by HUD, a household or family consists of one or more persons. Single persons and households without children are eligible for both Housing Choice Voucher and Project-based Rental Assistance.

United States citizens and non-citizens with eligible immigration status may receive assistance through the Section 8 program.

Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/who-is-eligible-section-8

Does a Housing Choice Voucher pay for utilities?

Most of the time, no, if you do qualify for a utility reimbursement, it won’t fully cover your actual monthly costs.

If your income is extremely low or at zero, the Housing Authority will do a calculation to see if your family qualifies for the utility reimbursement. If you do qualify, the PHA will send a monthly utility reimbursement check to you or directly pay it to the utility company. Unless you qualify for a hardship exemption (rarely is that granted), there will be a minimum amount of rent for which your family is responsible. That minimum amount is usually between twenty-five and fifty dollars. It will be included in the calculation and deducted from the utility reimbursement before you are sent the actual check.

Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/hcv-pay-for-utilities

Will Section 8 vouchers pay my mortgage?

No, Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers is a rental assistance program that does not pay your mortgage.

However, there is a program called Homeowner's Assistance that is provided by some housing authorities. You have to be a Housing Choice Voucher holder to enroll in the program. Contact your housing authority to find out if the Homeownership program is offered.

Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/section-8-vouchers-pay-mortgage

How to apply for Section 8 rental assistance.

Households may apply to the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program through the locally administered Public Housing Agency (PHA) during an open application period. Due to high demand, PHAs may close the HCV waiting list until they can provide assistance to new households. It is against HUD policy to charge for a HCV application.

Homes made affordable through Section 8 Project-based Rental Assistance (PBRA) are typically managed by private landlords, and application processes vary. Unlike the HCV program, PBRA landlords may charge an application fee.

For applicants who need assistance completing the application, reasonable accommodations may be made through the PHA or landlord.

Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/how-to-apply-section-8

How do I check the status of my housing application?

If you're looking how to check the status of your housing application, you usually must wait until receiving confirmation from the office that is processing the application.

It takes time to process applications for waiting list placement, even if they are submitted electronically. Housing agencies often ask that applicants do not contact the office to check if their application has been accepted, or placed on a waiting list.

Make sure you give valid and up to date contact information to ensure that you will receive verification of the status of your waiting list.

Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/how-to-check-status-section-8

Where can Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers be used?

According to HUD, Housing Choice Vouchers may be used in any non-subsidized rental home that meets an acceptable level of safety standards and rent reasonableness.

Once a voucher holder submits a request for approval, the Public Housing Agency will inspect the unit to ensure those standards are met.

In some jurisdictions, Housing Choice Vouchers are not a protected source of income meaning landlords can legally refuse to rent to an otherwise qualified voucher household.

Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/where-can-section-8-vouchers-be-used

Are Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers transferrable?

Yes, you can transfer your Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher to a different area once specific conditions are met. This process is referred to as "portability."

You can read more about HUD's portability policy here.

Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/transfer-section-8-voucher

Can a Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers be transferred to another person?

No, Housing Choice Vouchers are not transferrable between people.

In some cases, such as the death of the head of household, housing authorities may allow assistance to be transferred to an adult within the household that is legally able to execute the existing lease with the landlord.

Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/transfer-section-8-voucher-to-family

Is there a deadline to use a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher?

Voucher households have at least 60 days to find acceptable rental housing according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) policy.

In guidance for Public Housing Authorities (PHAs), HUD clarifies that the 60-day term applies to the household's formal Request for Tenancy Approval (RTA) for a unit. The unit does not have to be available for occupancy at the end of the 60-day search term.

Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/deadline-use-section-8-voucher

Are deadline extensions available for voucher households searching for a unit?

Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) have the discretion to grant extensions beyond the required 60-day search term based on household circumstances and local housing markets.

HUD policy does not mandate that PHAs grant extensions to voucher recipients.

Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/deadline-extension-section-8-voucher

How long does a Public Housing Authority take to approve a unit for Housing Choice Voucher tenancy?

In Chapter 10 of the Housing Choice Voucher Program Guidebook, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) advises that Housing Quality Standards inspections should be completed and tenants notified within 15 days of the Request for Tenancy Approval (RTA).

The 15-day deadline is required for Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) responsible for 1,250 housing choice vouchers or fewer. There is no requirement for PHAs managing more than 1,250 vouchers.

Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/how-long-approve-section-8-unit

Does Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance expire?

No, rental assistance does not expire for households living in approved units who remain eligible for the program and in good standing with the issuing Public Housing Agency.

Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/does-section-8-rental-assistance-expire

 How are units approved for Housing Choice Voucher tenancy?

After a voucher household has submitted a Request for Tenancy Approval (RTA), the Public Housing Agency (PHA) will contact the operator of the unit to schedule an inspection.

The procedure may differ between individual PHAs, but in general, an issuing PHA must:

  • Confirm the unit is eligible and not subject to existing HUD rental assistance.

  • Determine the unit is safe and standard using the Housing Quality Standards (HQS) set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

  • Determine that the rent being charged for the unit is reasonable in comparison to nearby unassisted homes.

If the unit is not deemed eligible, PHAs must provide the owner and household with an opportunity to correct outstanding issues. The deadline for corrections would be established by the PHA.

Link to this FAQ: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-help/how-are-section-8-units-approved

Frequently Asked Section 8 Questions

Detailed Section 8 Questions from Affordable Housing Online users.

How do I check my status on a waiting list?
Does Section 8 hurt your credit?
What is the Foster Youth to Independence Initiative?
We qualify for a smaller bedroom size after HCV re-examination, how can we keep our original bedroom size?
Are Section 8 and HUD the same thing?
Will Section 8 vouchers end or ever go away?
Will Section 8 vouchers pay for a hotel?
Will Section 8 vouchers pay all of my rent?
Where can I find Section 8 approved houses?
What is the most Section 8 tenants will pay?
What does it mean to go on Section 8?
Is it bad to be on Section 8?
When was Section 8 started?
Can Section 8 see my bank account?
Can I use a Section 8 voucher to help pay my mortgage?
What is the Moving To Work Program?
My family and I live in Section 8, but I have to move. Can we continue to receive Section 8 assistance in both places?
If I find housing before I get my Section 8 voucher, can I get approved sooner?
Does unemployment affect Section 8?